There is No Buddha-Dharma Outside the Mind, by Harada Sekkei Roshi

Guanyin as the Nine-Lotus BodhisattvaAt the beginning of Keizan Jokin Daishi’s Zazen Yojinki, there is the teaching ‘Zazen directly lets people illumine the mind and rest peacefully in their fundamental endowment.’ In Eihei Dogen Zenji’s Fukanza-zengi, we can find this same teaching expressed as `When you seek the Way, it is found to be essentially universal and complete. How, then, can it be contingent upon practice and enlightenment? The Dharma vehicle is free and unrestricted. What need is there for concentrated effort?’ Both of these teachings are expressions using words. These are words spoken from the final result or the ultimate of zazen. In other words, they are the teaching of zazen itself.

In short, these teachings say that people must know that essentially we are not deluded and that we must not seek for satori outside our own minds. To really know for ourselves that we are not deluded is what we call satori. In the Bramajala Sutra this is called `the mind ground’. In the Lotus Sutra it is referred to as `the true state of things’. In any case, delusion and enlightenment are only provisional names. The essence to which they refer is `No Self-Nature’ and this is something which you must verify for yourself.

Outside the mind, there is neither the Way of Buddha nor the Buddha Dharma. Consequently, even if you think there is enough of everything, still your mind doesn’t increase. If you think there isn’t enough, your mind doesn’t decrease. Even if you say there is enough, there is nothing in excess. If you say there is not enough, there is nothing lacking. This is the mind which neither increases nor decreases and which is completely free and unrestricted. To really study and investigate this mind is the Dharma vehicle of the ancient Buddhas; it is the gate to the Dharma.

When we look at things, it seems as if they are high or low, shallow or deep. However, height isn’t only measured by how tall something is, and depth isn’t only measured by how deep something is. In Buddhism, we say Dharma is only mind and is expressed in the immediate thought. Knowing that something is tall, the mind doesn’t become tall. Knowing that something is shallow, the mind doesn’t become shallow. We must know that the mind isn’t a fixed quantity which is high or low, deep or shallow. The same applies to the length of time as well as the progress or stagnation of the state of the world.

Again, in the Daishu Sutra it says `Not to see one dharma is the true way of seeing according to the Buddha Dharma.’ This means that rather than stopping at one viewpoint or one place, our mind is inexhaustible, beyond knowing, and without limit. We can only say it is something inexpressibly wonderful.

If essentially we are not deluded, why then is it necessary to practice? Looking back to the past. In the case of Dogen Zenji, the doubt arose, `Why did Buddhas of all ages have to seek enlightenment and engage in rigorous practise (to the point of sticking awls in their thighs) if essentially they were already endowed with enlightenment?’ He went to China and after undergoing the hardships and suffering of practice, he reached the final result which he expressed as, `The eyes lie horizontal, the nose stands vertical. There is no Buddha Dharma in the least.’ I think you are all familiar with this story.

In the Dharma, there is the dharma of not being clear. There is the dharma of delusion. There is the dharma of not being transparent and also of not being certain. These are all without doubt your condition now. This is what we call `Everyday Mind is the Way’. However, if you think this isn’t what you are seeking and that the Buddha Dharma is something more lofty and ideal and you practise with this image you have created of the Buddha Dharma, you will end up seeking for it outside the mind. Then, the more you seek and the more you practise, the more the separation between self and other will grow and it will be as if you intended to go north when in fact you are headed south.

Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in zazen for ten kalpas, but finally he couldn’t ascertain the essence of the Buddha Dharma. In his case as well, we can say this was because he sought the Dharma outside the mind. This condition where there is nothing extra and nothing lacking is identical for all sentient beings. If you don’t really come to attest to this for yourself, then for some time it is necessary to do zazen according to the teachings of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. It is also necessary to ask a master about the Dharma. The cardinal principle of Zen practice is to realise for yourself that essentially you never were deluded.

To read more teachings from Harada Sekkei Roshi click here.

From the May 2000 Buddhism Now.

Read some more Zen teachings from Dogen.

Categories: Buddhist meditation, Chan / Seon / Zen, Harada Sekkei Roshi

Tags: , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Many thanks, dear friend for sharing this beautiful dhamma teaching. May you and all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering. Big hug. xxx Val


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